As we move through the month of April, it is time to recognize that April is Fair Housing Month. It is a time to have many conversations about the true nature of Fair Housing and how we can be part of the solution every day in our businesses.
First of all, we need to recognize why it is important to everyone we come into contact with – not just our own families, clients, and friends. As REALTORS®, while we personally were not directly involved with the systematic denial of housing opportunities, we are part of an institution that was. Recognizing that as a profession, we are also responsible for impacting the lives of those around us in a very profound way. This is the jumping off point for massive change in how we transact business while we help our clients. Fair Housing is not just about race. It is also about recognizing how our preferences (aka internal biases) cloud the way we talk to our clients and the members of the public about housing, lending, neighborhoods, schools, inclusion and a litany of other factors.
While race has been a limiting factor in creation of generational wealth, so has the fact that someone is a single or divorced woman. Fair Housing is intended to level the playing field in the areas of protected classes, and it can mean so much more. Ultimately, it calls for the elimination of barriers to owning a home through education and a more thoughtful approach to real estate practice.
As a listing agent of a property, you have direct influence over how the seller sees the offers on the table in front of them. It is your responsibility to negate any limiting beliefs the seller may have regarding what makes an offer more desirable than the rest. It is your responsibility to assist your client in making a choice that will not violate Fair Housing laws and it is part of your fiduciary responsibility to the client. In representing buyers, you have a responsibility to not steer the client in any way to any particular home, neighborhood, price point or loan type. Understand that your clients have the right to choose their experience as long as it is their choice – not yours.
The speakers at April’s Main Meeting are experts in Fair Housing and brought valuable business tools to attendees. We are also hosting a book tour later in the year for the follow up book to “The Color of Law” by Richard Rothstein. It is called “Just Action: How to Challenge Segregation Enacted Under the Color of Law.” The book is cowritten by Richard Rothstein’s daughter Leah. You will not want to miss out on this one because it is about how to take action.
For now, it is time to take action towards limiting our biases in the way we do our businesses and handle the public. It is the law and part of our jobs to uphold the law. It is also part of our job to assist clients in understanding the laws and how not to break them. Sometimes this means we may have to tell them “no” you can’t do or say that.
Moving forward, we are having the First-Time Homebuyer Expo on Saturday, April 8th at the Mack Powell Event Center. This event is totally free and would be a great family friendly event to invite your database to. We all know someone that is renting and needs to find a way to purchase their first home. Why not get them exposed to the right information and really help them? Register at the link above.
Have a great month and see you around SAR.
Cherie Hunt, 2023 SAR President